Amazon and the EU reach agreement to end antitrust investigations

Amazon on Tuesday agreed to give merchants operating in the European Union more access to valuable real estate on its site, the European Commission said on Tuesday, in a deal ending antitrust investigations by regulators who said the Corporations have used its size and power to stifle competition on the bloc.

The settlement helps Amazon avoid potentially billions of dollars in fines and gives the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, a victory in implementing long-awaited changes to the world’s dominant online shopping platform. The agreement also prohibits the company from using non-public information it collects about independent retailers to influence Amazon’s own product selection.

The deal is an attempt to further delineate Amazon’s role as a digital storefront that many retailers rely on to reach customers and as a maker of products that often compete with those outside sellers. Critics say the dual role has created a conflict of interest that allows Amazon to favor its own products and services over small competitors that have few other ways to reach customers online.

“Today’s decision sets new rules for how Amazon conducts its business in Europe. Amazon can no longer abuse its dual role and will need to change several business practices,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for digital policy and antitrust enforcement. “Competing independent retailers and shippers, as well as consumers, will benefit,” she said.

An Amazon spokesman said the company was “pleased that we have addressed the concerns of the European Commission.”

“While we continue to disagree with some of the European Commission’s preliminary conclusions,” the spokesman said, “we have engaged constructively to ensure we can continue to serve customers across Europe and support the 225,000 European small and medium-sized businesses to sell our.” stores.”

The European Union, already recognized as the world’s most active regulator of the technology industry, is now acting even more aggressively. On Monday, antitrust authorities filed charges against Meta that could result in billions of dollars in fines for anticompetitive practices related to its marketplace service for the sale of goods. Apple and Google are also under investigation for possible antitrust violations.

Businesses are also scrambling to comply with new EU laws passed this year targeting the tech sector and coming into effect by 2024. The rules give regulators even more powers to crack down on perceived anti-competitive business practices and force social media companies to monitor users – more actively generated content.

The Amazon deal announced on Tuesday follows closely with a tentative deal announced in July. As part of the settlement, Amazon agreed:

  • Grant independent retailers equal access to the Buy Box – the shopping area with prominent buttons on a product listing prompting customers to “buy now” or “add to cart”. Amazon said it would create a second offer box if there was a sufficient difference in price or delivery time.

  • Stop using non-public data about merchants selling on its site, including terms of sale, sales, and inventory, which Amazon could use to make decisions about which competing products to make, sell, and promote.

  • Allow outside sellers to participate in Amazon’s Prime program even if they don’t use Amazon’s logistics business if they meet certain standards for delivery and service reliability.

The comparison lasts five years and legally only applies to Amazon’s activities in the European Union.

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